“I Can’t Breathe”
The Murder of George Floyd
“The time for endless conversation has passed. We are a nation of differences and this is our greatest strength. It is a time for action in a way that cannot be ignored or denied.”
“I like millions of other Americans watched in horror as the life of George Floyd was taken from him and his loved ones. I watched as those sworn to protect stood idly by and ignored his desperate pleas that he could not breathe. The video depicts police brutality and those images are indelibly imprinted in my mind. The murder of George Floyd seen live by America is another dark episode in our nation’s longstanding history of systemic racism that is still alive and well in our society today.
I found hope and inspiration today in the words of President Obama who commented: It’s natural to wish for life “to just get back to normal” as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us. But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly “normal” — whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park.
This shouldn’t be “normal” in 2020 America. It can’t be “normal.” If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better. It will fall mainly on the officials of Minnesota to ensure that the circumstances surrounding George Floyd’s death are investigated thoroughly and that justice is ultimately done. But it falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station — including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day — to work together to create a “new normal” in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.”
My hope was short-lived as I read the words of President Trump. With his usual lack of basic humanity, compassion, and understanding, and in keeping with his moronic tweets, he broadcast that the protesters in Minneapolis could be shot: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” The Divider in Chief continues to divert attention from systematic racism in America, which he has done nothing to eradicate, and continues to try to shift the focus and blame on those victimized by it.
I in no way condone the violence and destruction that took place in Minneapolis and other cities after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. It does nothing to improve police behavior or help the African American community. It is impossible to justify, but for me as a Social Worker it is not impossible to understand or to predict. When peaceful protests fail to effectuate meaningful change and people of color continue to die at the hands of racists and police, we as a people cannot expect endless patience from the victims and the community.
The time for endless conversation has passed. We are a nation of differences and this is our greatest strength. It is a time for action in a way that cannot be ignored or denied. The problem is obvious and the solution in our hands. Your power as a voter can elect and hold responsible leaders who will be responsive to the communities they serve and can work toward implementing educational programs to teach our youngsters and adults to embrace our differences.
Trump and those who would hold us back rather than lifting us up must go. We must work together to make sure no person endures economic, healthcare, educational, criminal justice or any other inequity based upon their race. We must enlist men and women of every color and creed to serve together and fight together to ensure every American enjoys equal rights, liberty and opportunity. I firmly subscribe to Dr. King’s vision when he said, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality” and I will fight with every fiber of my being until it is so.”
Laura Ahearn, STATE SENATE CANDIDATE (SD-1)